Of tiny joys and culinary adventures

A famous person once said, “A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.” I am sure this person must have been a great cook because I cannot cook anything even to save my life. Being a writer, my words might have soul. Unfortunately, those do not get transferred into pans and pots. People often wonder what will I feed my husband and his family, to which I say that I will marry a chef (I know that is quite a lame response).

Ignoring the comments of my ‘loved’ ones about my culinary skills, my father loves my oval shaped semi cooked rotis. He enjoys the ‘delicious’ watery dal and the spicy ‘aloo mutter’ sabzi.’ That day too was no different. Papa was coming home after a long work-trip and I had not been able to buy something for him. I had made a card for him in my scrawly handwriting along with my crayons.

The fifteen year old me’s excitement was beyond measure. Ma was visiting the relatives. I had decided to take charge of the kitchen and cook a scrumptious meal for my father. In those times, the internet was something novel. Nobody knew about food apps just the way nobody is aware about life on mars. My aunt had dictated the recipe to me over the phone. I went to the market and got all the necessary ingredients before this ‘culinary experiment’ began.

The menu for the day was Puri Bhaji, Pulao along with curd. (I know I was too ambitious for my age). Papa was going to reach home at 9:00 pm. I began with my adventure at 7:30 in the evening. Being a novice, I had no idea how much an onion could make me cry besides homework and science. I started mincing the onion. I was certain that the rivers that poured from my eyes were deeper than the rivers of India.

To ease my cooking shenanigans, I decided to play some music. While Jennifer Lopez could not stop waiting for tonight, I could not stop dancing along to the beat. And then, catastrophe struck! Instead of salt, I put a humble serving of sugar in the bhaji. Panic spread all over me. To counter balance the sugar, I added some salt. I was missing Ma’s expertise in the kitchen. I cursed myself and stamped my foot in anger. Must say that I was jumping around better than a spring.

Luckily, my oval-shaped puris did not burn and there was something in the menu that tasted the way it should. Forget about proper shapes. That is the ‘moh-maaya’ of the culinary world.

Next up was Pulao. I thought how hard it can be. Just rice and some vegetables mixed together. Well, that impression was about to change. I glanced at the clock and it was already 8:15. My knife started moving faster than Schumacher’s car. In my hurry, ‘amchoor’ powder became the new ‘garam’ masala. Oblivious to my error, I chopped up some vegetables into clunky pieces. I had prepared something that at least looked like Pulao.

It was just a little past 9:00 and the doorbell rang. I ran to open the door and there stood Papa with his entire luggage and the biggest smile ever. I gave him the tightest hug. I had already set the table and after freshening up, it was decision time. He tore the puri and dipped into the bhaji. For a micro second, his expression changed but he continued with a smile. He loved the crunch of my pulao. Papa told me that maybe I may have missed the recipe ingredients, but love, one of the most important ingredients was rich in my food.

That evening with papa was perfect, even if the food was not. But had TinyOwl been around during those times, I think nothing would be lacking. Thank to this app, you will not have to put yourself through the misadventures of the culinary world. You will not have to jump around with a broken toe after adding the wrong ingredient. You can choose a restaurant as per your cuisine choice and also enjoy quick delivery of your meal. A tasty meal and some heartfelt conversations make a perfect evening.

Life-saver for the day

So for such wonderful evenings, make sure you have TinyOwl installed on your android (click here) and iOS phones (click here).

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He leans back on the arm-chair,

A cup of tea by his side;

Untouched.

Nothing in the newspaper

That can shock these wrinkled eyes.

He looks at the walls;

He looks at the clock;

With every space filled;

His house still feels empty.

Memories of his home

Attempt to fill the void in his heart.

The blank white walls of his house;

Take him to his colourful aangan in Sindh.

His smartphone beeps with a message

“ Taakhe chetichand ji vadhayun”;

The smartphone’s lit display

Reminds him of his mother’s colourful saree.

The way its colour would bring out her eyes;

The purchased Lolas are placed on the pan;

Cold and without their real essence.

A bite into it and he reminisces the aroma

Of the ones his mother made.

Their fragrance would wake him up;

And he would charge towards the kitchen

With tiny steps and the biggest smile.

His nightmares are memories of his home;

When he wakes up in cold sweat

All he can see are blank walls;

All he can feel are forced stories of the present;

Refusing to co-exist with the memories

Of his once and always beloved home.

Stories from the ad world

Because of my time in advertising, I have met several individuals. I am the sorts, who will reach home late, have ma’s delicious food and sleep by her side when some thought of a nightmare scares me to no extent. Most of the women I have met, they have moved cities to pursue a career in this exciting profession. Personally, I cannot even think of going away from home, but these women have inspiring stories. They ignite the thought of how life would have been if I was away from my comfort zone.

In my previous organisation, I was working with two copywriters who were from Lucknow and Allahabad respectively. Now in this profession, you can practically forget the thought of leaving work during the day or early or basically, when there is light. Days will keep passing, but the work and the client’s demands never end. In times like these, advertising professionals end up leaving their offices post midnight and this even includes women.

These days, safety has been a raging topic of discussion in our society. In this scenario, leaving office at such late hours to go home, which is not even nearby is quite commendable. But, these women did it fearlessly. They did not have a single frown. It is quite inspiring to work with such women who have moved cities to pursue their dreams, away from family and carried on with lives here fearlessly. Trust ambition to give a person the strength to get through the most difficult of the situations for a new life.

Now, at times, I might come off as coy. But, these women, they are bold. Not in the conventional sense. But, they are not afraid to voice their opinion without batting their eyelids. When you stay in Mumbai, you become like the city. Constantly on the move; Not ready to give up; Still very kind. This city is like a larger home where we all stay and tend to imbibe all of its qualities.

And the best part about both these women is that their parents have been equally supportive about them moving cities. Sometimes, you don’t need this drama of parents not letting you leave home, but staying in a new city comes with its own share of challenges and teachings that can mould you into an independent and a much stronger individual.

Through their own efforts, these two women have proved that nothing is impossible. Women can do just about anything and no one can stop them from attaining what they want to. They can stay alone safely and work in the ad world without any fear. All of this for a new life that they can live on their own terms.  They truly keep it phenomenal.

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The Homecoming

When you are a copywriter in advertising, you don’t really get to see home a lot. (My mom has started calling me a paying guest, who just does not pay). Blame it on crazy deadlines, even crazier clients and what not. But, the days I manage to reach home early, the smile on my mom’s face is priceless. Ironically, I run out of words to describe that moment. Those are the days when Ma does not yell at me and happily lets me enjoy her rib melting and finger licking food without “Your room is not clean”, “ Why have you not put your clothes for washing?”. You know all those statements that moms say without which their day is incomplete.

Now, when I come home or most of the times struggle against all the odds to reach home, it is not a big surprise for Ma. But, the surprise that my sister planned for her was the icing on the cake. Married and settled in Texas, my sister does not often come to India. Her trip to India was on the cards and she had given a date to my mother, which was 19th November.

My mother became super excited and started preparing all her favourite delicacies (Look at all the love, how come I don’t get this treatment? *Hmph*) She even went and purchased some interior items for our home and my mother truly exemplified the phrase, ‘bundle of joy.’

Just one day before 19th November, my sister’s brother-in-law came to Mumbai as he had to attend a dental conference . We had asked him to stay for dinner and we were just chit-chatting over the yummy Kulfi mom had made. Suddenly the doorbell rang followed by a frantic beating. My mom was perplexed. I could see the fear that had started to spread on her face. I told her to calm down and I went and opened the door.

To my surprise, I see my sister and Jeeju at the door with my most adorable niece ever! It was that moment when my knowledge of English deserted me. I had no words to say. I could not even scream in joy. I was surprised in the truest sense. I opened the door and they came in. For once, my mother was quiet, she did not know what to say and then she says, “Yeh galat hai! Hum airport aane waaley the. Aap bata toh dete.” To which my Jeeju said, “Oh ma! Bata dete toh surprise nahin hota na.” My mom just went and hugged my sister. It was the tightest hug she had ever given to anyone. My sister had come to India after three years. (I saw the happy tears in my mom’s eyes and I knew that she would be a probable choice for a mom’s role when Sooraj Barjatya makes his next movie)

I was busy playing with my niece who was canvassing every bit of our floor with her crawls and making sure that my house reverberates with the sound of her squeaks.

But, leaving all my corny humour aside (What to do? Copywriter problems) I truly cherish the memories of that day. I am glad to have a family like this that loves each other to the universe and back (Again, copywriter problems). I might not reach home on time and that definitely angers my mom, but still, she waits, just so that we can share some smiles and conversations over our meal. That is our time when we enjoy our family time. When we look up and thank the Almighty for letting us enjoy these slice of life memories and a lot more in this home that just does not house us but our culture, traditions and most importantly, our memories.

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With their services, you might get a new home where you can also create such wonderful memories.